Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Rabbitry

My house is overrun with rabbits.

Last fall, as part of Lauren’s 4H project, we agreed to adopt a rabbit. Hazel belonged to a friend of ours, and has several years of County Fair experience under her belt (or pelt, rather). She seemed like a good "starter rabbit" for someone just getting into the whole 4H County Fair thing. And somehow, in the process of getting a hutch, we ended up with Milo as well. They are friendly little things, for the most part.

Hazel and Milo have been moved into the house for the winter, though this winter has been warm enough that I doubt they would have been harmed if we’d left them outside. There are two cages stacked one atop the other about ten feet to my left, over by where we hang our coats, and most of the time they hang out there munching away on whatever Lauren has remembered to feed them as well as the odd sweater or two. Lauren cleans out the pans below the cages every day, so it doesn’t get too rabbity on the nose, and mostly things are fine.

But you sort of feel bad for them, sitting there in their little cages. So we let them run around a bit.

There are several problems with this.

First, rabbits tend to be rather indiscriminate eaters. In addition to the specially-designed and absurdly expensive little pellets that we feed them to keep them away from our sweaters, they will also eat old vegetables, pillows, and random financial papers left lying about, the last of which have been known to contain deadly amounts of disappointment and rage. You do not want to see a 3lb bunny on a rage diet. You will laugh yourself to death.

Monty Python jokes may be left in the comment section for those who truly cannot resist.

Second, rabbits are by nature prey. This means they are rather skittish, especially around the cat, who would be nature's perfect predator if she could be bothered. Mithra has on occasion attempted to taste the rabbits – not harm them, mind you, just a little lick to see what they’re like. Mostly, though, she watches them from the safety of the back of a chair – she figured out early that rabbits can’t climb, so when they start to annoy her that’s where she retreats.

It’s not the lamb lying down with the lion, but it generally keeps the peace.

The final thing about rabbits – at least our rabbits – is that they are not housebroken. I understand that such a thing is possible, but it occupies the same place in my world as ghosts or Dallas: people tell me such things exist, but I have never seen them and therefore remain agnostic on the subject.

We’re actually attempting to train the rabbits. They have a specially-designed and reasonably priced litter box in the corner of the living room, with specially-designed and absurdly expensive litter, which they seem to like. But for the most part our living room is a minefield of tiny little rabbit bombs. It is Lauren’s job to vacuum them up after the rabbits are put away, and she does a decent job of it. Mostly.

I remain convinced that this is part of Kim’s long-range plan to get rid of the living room carpet. It may well succeed.

4 comments:

Nathan said...

I'm assuming you've had them fixed?

http://news.minnesota.publicradio.org/features/200005/08_kelleherb_bunnies-m/

David said...

Why do people say "fixed" when they mean "broken"?

At present both Hazel and Milo are fully capable of reproduction, as we found out to our dismay over Christmas when Hazel had a grand total of one ill-fated baby, much to the rabbit-sitter's surprise. And ours. We've discussed getting them fixed, but in the meantime we only let one out of their cage at a time.

Still not sure how they managed to get together for that first baby. Kim's theory is that the wires in the outdoor hutch don't keep them far enough apart. Which, if true, means I may have to ratchet up my respect level for old Milo there.

Duuuuuuuuuuude.

timb111 said...

Nathan's link reminded me of the pet rabbits I had on the farm. I have no idea why I had pet rabbits since I was very glad to trap the wild ones, but nonetheless I had two black bunnies.

One day I decided I didn't want pet rabbits anymore so I let them lose and stopped trapping rabbits. Somehow they survived amidst the pigs, cats,coyotes and bobcats living underneath buildings. For years you'd see black rabbits bounding about. I always felt a little bit guilty about not feeding them, but they seemed the thrive on their own.

John the Scientist said...

You break the rabbit to fix your nproblem.

And the white rabbit I had when I was a kid was housebroken, but I have no idea how we did it.